THE YEAR OF THE GOPHER

A skilled author explores the family pressures that impel a talented 17-year-old to opt for time at a low-status job before considering college. George's lawyer father has had the lives of his four children planned since birth, but reality doesn't conform. Eldest child Trish has married after two years at college; Jeri is sneaking out with boys in the wee hours; the youngest, Ollie, doesn't do well in school. But it's George who asserts his independence: deliberately failing to get into his father's chosen colleges, he gets a job at a garden center, then as a messenger—grueling work, but his choice. And because this is an honest family with a will to solve problems in spite of its members, inflexibility, George's move ultimately wins his parents' respect and more self-determination for ail—including Mom, who prefers teaching to promotion. At the conclusion, George is off to the local college to study counseling—his own idea. A lot goes on in this transitional year: George has four girls in his life (the least interesting relationship is the one in which he loses his virginity; later, he quits his first job because his boss tries to seduce him); one of his best friends has a bisexual father, another almost drowns after an alcoholic binge. But Naylor weaves all into a thoughtful, well-balanced story, sure to hold readers' attention as much by realistic characters and circumstances as by the plot's more arresting turns.

Pub Date: April 1, 1987

ISBN: 0440215919

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1987

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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